Images below from Todd Thurlow’s “East Ocean Blvd. & Dolphin Drive 1940, 1958 time capsule flight” reveals the drainage of Witham Field in Stuart, Florida.For some reason as I drive around, I am preoccupied with drainage. Over-drainage that is. I always remember my father’s high school farmer friend Mr Haddad saying to me: “Jacqui, we spent one-hundred years taking the water off the land and we’re going to spend one-hundred years putting it back on…”
I have been wanting to write something about Stuart’s Witham Field for a long time. I have flown out of it for years, Ed and I going up to take photographs of the St Lucie River/Indian River Lagoon. What a surprise when I finally figured out the ditch behind Ed’s hanger is part of the remains of Willoughby Creek! Aggg!
The land Witham Field sits upon was ditched and drained long ago and parts of the land the airport sits on held the headwaters of Willoughby Creek.
If you’re ever driving east past Witham Field on Monterey Road (714) at Kingswood Drive you’ll notice a fairly wide ditch. This ditch bends east, widening, and then getting skinny again, eventually going under St Lucie Boulevard, and then dumps into the St Lucie River.
-Screenshot of Google Maps showing canal along Monterey and Kingswood Drive dumping to the St Lucie River then turning right to gold course.Another canal goes all along the airport behind the houses on St Lucie Blvd. until the Sailfish Sands golf course. Curving around St Lucie Boulvard, which becomes Indian Street, one will see a restored fork or section of Willoughby Creek and next the bridge going over Willoughby Creek itself. This is the bridge where people often observe manatees.There are more ditches that are off Dixie Highway that lead back into the airport that one cannot see from the road.
-The surrounding lands, especially ponds around Willoughby Creek, once drained into Willoughby Creek. These ponds are long gone and the runoff waters have been directed into small reservoirs and ditches. Thankfully, Martin County has worked hard to improve the water quality in this area.
It remains rather amazing to look back and think on what these lands in the “middle of town” used to be. Large ponds surrounded by wetlands, scrub habitat, and certainly areas of tall sand and slash pine.
Watch my brother Todd’s time capsule flight below to view old Stuart including the lands where the Witham Field sits. Once an oasis for birds, deer, gopher turtles and other wildlife, today it seems like it was always an airport. It wasn’t.
To see the area of Witham Field go to 2:29 in video if you see it below, if not CLICK HERE.
-Ditch on Monterey (714) and Kingswood -Ditch/Canal on Kingwood -Ditch/Canal coming from Kingswood to St Lucie River. Water looks pretty gross. -Other side of St Lucie Blvd. Outfall into St Lucie River. It’s at a speed hump. -Part of restoration of Willoughby Creek on Indian Street. This goes much further back.
-Not a great photo but you see the manatee sign at bridge over Willoughby Creek on Indian Street. The manatees love it here where it is warm and they are protected.